Class A: Tindley wins first state title in dramatic fashion

Class A: Tindley wins first state title in dramatic fashion

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Class A: Tindley wins first state title in dramatic fashion

From left, Tindley Tigers’ Chris Murff (33) and Tyler Young (23) hoist the IHSAA Class A state championship trophy after their 51-49 win over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

From left, Tindley Tigers’ Chris Murff (33) and Tyler Young (23) hoist the IHSAA Class A state championship trophy after their 51-49 win over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

INDIANAPOLIS – In a 30-second span at the beginning of the second half, Hunter White picked up his third and fourth fouls in quick succession. The Tindley junior, who’d scored just one point, headed to the bench, where he sat for more than a half hour.​

White was well-rested, and ready, when he got his chance. His driving, left-handed 10-foot bank shot with 5 seconds left gave Tindley a dramatic 51-49 win over Lafayette Central Catholic in the Class A state finals on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Following White’s shot, junior teammate Eric Hunter stole the inbounds pass and the players dogpiled on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse floor.

“I had to get back into it,” White said. “I know I was out for a long time, but when we called the play I just had do the same thing. When that lane opens up, you have to take the shot.”

Tindley coach Bob Wonnell said he knew White would hit it. Wonnell, in his 10th season at Tindley, was in tears after the game. It was the first IHSAA state championship in any sport for Tindley, an inner-city charter school which began state tournament play in 2007-08.

“We have a family,” Wonnell said. “We spend so much time together. They are great kids and they put up with a lot — our academic requirements and our discipline things. There’s a big scope of things they have to do just to be eligible. So this is for our whole family. Everybody that’s worn a Tindley jersey.”

The Tindley Tigers bench clears as they tackle the Tigers’ Hunter White (3) after he connected on a short jumper that put the Tigers up 51-49 over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights as the time ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter during the IHSAA Class A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

The Tindley Tigers bench clears as they tackle the Tigers’ Hunter White (3) after he connected on a short jumper that put the Tigers up 51-49 over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights as the time ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter during the IHSAA Class A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

Tindley (24-5) had to battle all the way. Lafayette Central Catholic senior Jacob Page shaded standout junior Eric Hunter all game, holding Hunter to eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, well below his 26.1-point average.

“I knew I had to make him work for everything,” Page said.

The plan worked. Tindley led 44-42 going into the fourth quarter when the Knights (22-7) switched to a 2-3 zone. That change seemed to further stymie the Tigers, who were scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

It was a freshman, Sincere McMahon, who finally broke the ice. McMahon drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Tigers a 47-46 lead with 3 minutes left.

“He’s never shy about shooting,” Wonnell said with a laugh.

Tindley Tigers’ Sincere McMahon (4) hugs teammate Tindley Tigers’ Joe Johnson (0) after their IHSAA Class A state championship game 51-49 win over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

Tindley Tigers’ Sincere McMahon (4) hugs teammate Tindley Tigers’ Joe Johnson (0) after their IHSAA Class A state championship game 51-49 win over the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

McMahon scored again, after a steal, to put Tindley ahead by three. Lafayette Central Catholic freshman Carson Barrett answered with a layup to cut Tindley’s lead to 49-48 with 1:06 left.

LCC got the ball back after a Tindley turnover and Barrett made one of two free throws to make it 49-49 with 28.7 seconds left. That set up the final sequence for Tindley.

“We knew what we were going to run,” Wonnell said. “We get a lot of experience against a 2-3 zone throughout the course of the season. It kind of worked to where we could walk it up and make some eye contact with each other. We didn’t necessarily need to call timeout. We knew where we were going to be and what we needed to do.”

After White’s shot banked in, Hunter swooped in and picked off the inbounds pass. His shot missed, but the clock ran out as the ball fell off the rim. The maroon-clad Tindley fans erupted on chants of “Tind-ley! Tig-ers!”

“I’m just so happy,” Wonnell said. “I’ve been in team sports since seventh grade and we’ve never finished my year like this where we won our last game. It’s amazing. We did it.”

Chris Murff, a 6-3 senior, finished well above his 4.7-point average with a team-high 13 points. McMahon added 10 points, almost double his 5.4-point average.

Avery Denhart led LCC with 17 points in his final high school game. The 6-3 Barrett added 11 points and 11 rebounds. LCC was making its first state finals appearance since 2003.

Page, who scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Knights, was named the Ray Craft Mental Attitude Award winner.

Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.

TINDLEY 51, LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC 49

Laf. Central Catholic     12   14   16    7   —  49

Tindley                           13   11   20   7   —  51

LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC (22-7) — Avery Denhart 6-12 4-5 17, Jacob Page 3-5 1-1 7, Thomas Gothard 0-3 2-2 2, Ben Tharp 3-11 3-4 9, Carson Barrett 5-7 1-2 11, Tyler Powers 1-2 0-0 3, Grant Schrader 0-1 0-2 0. Totals: 18-41 11-16 49.

TINDLEY (24-5) — Joe Johnson 2-5 2-2 7, Hunter White 2-5 1-3 5, KJ Coleman 3-5 0-0 6, Eric Hunter 3-11 1-2 8, Chris Murff 5-12 3-5 13, Sincere McMahon 4-9 0-0 10, Tyler Young 1-2 0-1 2. Totals: 20-49 7-13 51.

3-point goals: Lafayette Central Catholic 2-10 (Powers, Denhart); Tindley 4-11 (McMahon 2, Johnson, Hunter).

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